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Daily Devotion for November 17, 2010
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
Samson Part 1 — Samson is Conceived
Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, so the Lord delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and said, "You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean."
"You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines."
Then the woman went to her husband and told him, "A man of God came to me. He looked like an angel of God, very awesome. I didn't ask him where he came from, and he didn't tell me his name. But he said to me, 'You will become pregnant and have a son. Now then, drink no wine or other fermented drink and do not eat anything unclean, because the boy will be a Nazirite of God from the womb until the day of his death.'"
Notes on the Scripture
Samson was one of the great judges of Israel, but the term "judge" is slightly misleading. After Joshua finally conquered Canaan, the twelve tribes formed into a sort of confederation; something more than an alliance, but without a true central government. When the need arose — usually when a foreign power invaded Hebrew lands — a leader would be chosen. We call these leaders "judges" for lack of a better term, but they were as much military and political leaders as legal arbiters.
They did have power to interpret the law; this was even more important in Israel than in most kingdoms, due to the law's pronouced religious significance and its deep integration into the culture. But the Hebrew judges of this period — the capital-J-Judges — acted with all the powers of a king, lacking only the hereditary rights and ceremonial anointing a formal king would have.
The account of Samson begins, as so many of Israel's stories, with the people having fallen into disgrace in God's eyes. No details are provided, but typically, Hebrew misconduct serious enough to warrant conquest meant widespread idol worship, invariably a foreign god such as Astarte or one of many local cult gods which came to be known, collectively, as Ba'al.
Samson's annunciation is paralleled in many great figures of the Bible. Like Samuel, Isaac, or John the Baptist, he was given to a barren woman; one can see how a childless woman becoming pregnant at a late age would lend credibility to status as a child of God, destined to be special.
Samson was specifically was to be raised as a Nazirite "from the womb". The Nazirites were a sort of early asectic religious order which shunned both wine and razors. Most of them were not allowed to see corpses or visit graves, but Samson clearly did not practice this tenet; in fact, sources outside the Bible confirm a sub-order of Nazirites to whom the corpse prohibition did not apply.
Most Nazirites chose their status, like monks. Samson, however, was doubly special. He was ordained a Nazirite from the time of his conception. Not even as a fetus was he contaminated by wine or unclean food. This gives credence to the great powers he would wield as a man.